Thornewood Castle – Tacoma, Washington - Atlas Obscura

Thornewood Castle

"The House That Love Built" is shying away from "The House That Ghosts Love." 


Thornewood Castle has enjoyed quite the reputation as an opulent den of paranormal activity, something that its former owners made sure to capitalize on. The new owners? Not so much.

With construction beginning in 1911, the castle was assembled under the watchful eye of Mr. Chester Thorne, starting with the remains of a dismantled 15th-century English house. The palatial manor was downright majestic, deserving of “castle” classification. At the end of construction, Thornewood was 27,000 square feet and had 54 rooms, including 22 bathrooms. The 35-acres that surrounded the castle were transformed into gorgeous English gardens strewn with elegant statues, and a secret “sunken” garden designed by the Olmsted Brothers, out by the pool. The home was enjoyed by Thorne and his family until it was inherited, upon his death, by his daughter Anna, with strict instructions to never part with the property. Anna promptly sold it to a developer, who wasted no time legally maneuvering through the restrictions of the will.

Long story short, it’s now a bed and breakfast. 

Thornewood is a very popular subject in ghost hunter circles, and although now there is an alleged back trail of all kinds of sightings, the haunting rumors coincidentally started popping up after the estate was used in Stephen King’s horror film Rose Red, where it portrayed a diabolical soul-sucking house that kills anyone who enters. It was also the star of the sequel,  The Diary of Ellen Rimbauer. It was after the two films circulated that stories of apparitions and cold spots began to emerge.  Weird. 

The couple who owned the castle-turned-bed & breakfast ran with it, as any enterprising business owners would. Then, Thornewood changed hands once more, and suddenly, its story underwent a rewrite. The new owners spun the story that Thorne built the house as a very expensive labor of love for his precious bride, Anna. They call it “The House That Love Built,” and have done their best to erase any trace of haunted history. Insulted paranormal bloggers called out the new owners for trying to erase the haunted mansion’s history, and sneered at the complete lack of ghostly acknowledgment except for a small mention in their FAQs that reads, “Is Thornewood Castle haunted?” Answer: “Only in the movies!” followed by a smiley face. 

An official historical site, the Thornewood Castle can be rented out for events and weddings, and still maintains a steady flow of bed & breakfast enjoyers. It is private property and a private residence, so to visit you must book a room or event.

Update as of August 2021: This site is now private. 

In partnership with KAYAK

Plan Your Trip

From Around the Web